Home / Blog / Straban continues to field Amblebrook complaints

Straban continues to field Amblebrook complaints

Jun 19, 2023Jun 19, 2023

Two future Amblebrook homeowners warned Straban supervisors during their recent meeting they are getting neither high quality housing nor good performance from their building inspection service.

Dale Graves and Dianna Moy produced more than 30 pages of documented notes, photographs and copies of inspections and stop orders related to the construction of their future home at 326 Rustic Wood Drive in Amblebrook.

According to its website, Amblebrook is a 55-plus housing development east of US Route 15 and south of Shrivers Corner Road, specializing in one-level homes, and featuring “resort-style living.”

Graves warned supervisors of problems with construction quality of his new home and described erratic inspections. His concerns ran from overall quality to structural safety, expressing worry about fellow residents “if there would be any kind of wind event. I’ve seen what wind can do.”

Graves complaints were focused on PA Municipal Code Alliance Inc (PMCA), the building code inspection service for Straban Township, claiming the service missed major construction mistakes and structural problems with the builders and subcontractors working for Caruso homes. Inspectors, Graves claimed, seem to focus on less important matters in their inspections.

Graves provided examples, including photographs, of a support wall compromised by multiple holes drilled in every stud. Photographs also illustrated alleged improper framing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) vent problems, and insufficient securing of drywall. He also described unsafe testing practices, anchor bolts improperly installed, and drains not connected to plumbing systems. Graves told supervisors he was driven to contact the state’s Department of Labor and Industry representative to the site which resulted in at least one stop construction order.

Supervisors tried to clarify the difference between what inspectors can observe and the overall quality of construction.

Graves said the poor quality of subcontractors’ work is part of the story, “but if its caught you can deal with it, you can fix it. There are major structural problems and they are not doing their service.”

Graves told supervisors they could expect a report from the Department of Labor and Industry, which he said corroborated several of his complaints. Following the stop order, Graves told supervisors, at least six homes under construction near his home were required to rebuild supporting walls where studding had been badly compromised by drilled openings.

Graves and Moy also described their dispute with PMCA resulting in a breakdown of communication with the inspection service. Graves said he didn’t want to cause difficulties at the building site, but as problems allegedly became more serious, he reached out to the inspection service to raise his concern. Moy was employed by PMCA for eight weeks to help resolve what she described as a backlog of paperwork. And when problems arose, she told Graves to call owner Clem Malot,’ whom she said “he will understand.”

At one point Graves said one PMCA office representative “shut me down and said I had no right to go out and look at the site.” Graves said after the conflict with inspectors began around May 1, Moy was laid off from the service May 5. Graves said “it got to the point where a PMCA lawyer issued a cease and desist letter” indicating to the homeowners they are not welcome to be on the building site.

Sanders and Kammerer commended the couple for their diligence and said “most homeowners can’t be present to keep such a close eye on the building process.” Given this situation, “they should consider hiring inspectors” to be on site.

All three supervisors acknowledged ongoing issues with the quality of construction at Amblebrook, citing complaints at earlier township meetings. Graves’ and Moy’s comments echoed similar complaints made by Amy Charland to supervisors at their meeting July 7, 2022, citing defective building techniques and drainage problems. Charland sought help from Adams County Resource Conservationist Rusty Ryan who helped resolve improper grading around her house.

“We’ve reached out to the Illinois based CCD Rock Creek company and not heard back,” said Supervisor Chair Tony Sanders.

Supervisor Fred Kammerer said the scale of the project is one cause of the quality problems, adding “They are building 40 houses at once.” Sanders thanked Graves and Moy for their comments and said “We will take this under consideration. Your words are not falling on deaf ears.”

After the meeting, Graves wrote in an email, “At the end of the day all I am looking for is a code compliant house.”

John Spangler may be contacted at [email protected].

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